We take a look at tonight’s Premier League clash between West Brom and Manchester United at The Hawthorns.
West Bromwich Albion host Manchester United in tonight’s Premier League fixture at the Hawthorns at 8pm. Louis van Gaal, when he arrived at Old Trafford, asked the fans not to cast judgement on his reign until after 3 months, however now that the appointed day is upon us is he is rowing back from his earlier pronouncement accepting that he been unwise in giving a hostage to fortune. He was quoted by the BBC as saying:
“It was very stupid to say three months because then the media are only talking about three months.”
And as alluded to in the quote the ‘three month report card’ type story is duly doing the rounds in the press. Despite an unconvincing start to their campaign, the horrific collapse in the Leicester game where they threw away a 3-1 lead in the last 30 minutes to fall to a 5-3 defeat being their nadir, the Red Devils sat in 4th place in the table going into the international break.
They have struggled on the road failing to register a win their past five away games, their worst run since 2001. On the other hand should they prevail tonight it will be their the third win on the bounce, a feat they have not yet managed in 2014. Lies, damn lies and statistics as the saying goes.
Van Gaal was trotting out the well worn platitudes in the build up to the game:
“There are no teams who are easy to beat – that is the big difference between England and other leagues.”
In terms of personnel United will be without the suspended Wayne Rooney while the good news is that Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling, Ashley Young, Phil Jones and Michael Carrick are back in training and may be available to take the field tonight.
West Brom for their part have injury concerns around captain Chris Brunt who returned from international duty with an injured groin, the Northern Ireland international who featured in his country’s sensational 2-0 win in Greece is a doubtful starter.
Striker Victor Anichebe is also unlikely to play a part, his season so far has been dogged by a persistent groin problem. Andy Irvine speaking ahead of the game he was quoted by Yahoo Sports according the customary deference to United.
“They are still Manchester United and have some great players. It’s going to be a huge game for our club, players and fans. When the fixtures come out most people up and down the country look to see when they are playing Manchester United at home. They have been a fantastic team over the years but the squad was looking like it was going to need some changes and I read something from Sir Alex Ferguson saying it has needed an overhaul. It was getting to that time and David Moyes inherited that situation. It’s a period of transition.”
After this match van Gaal has two potentially season defining games to consider, in the shape of clashes with high flying Chelsea and Manchester City, so he really needs a win here to carry momentum forward into these massive fixtures.
Prediction: West Brom 0-2 Manchester United
Dan O’Mahony, Pundit Arena.